Help Your Pet Adjust to a New Home: Moving Tips for Dog and Cat Parents

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If you’ve ever moved with a dog or a cat, you know that it can be a stressful time for both of you. All the rushing around, packing and planning can make your pet feel uneasy.

With their routines changing, dogs and cats can feel unsure about their situation. When you move with pets, their scenery and smells change. This signals distress for your fur baby.

During this time, it’s important for you to remain calm and consistent. Remember that you are your pet’s most familiar anchor in the new home. If they are acting timid, unsure or following you around, you may need to be patient with them. Always remain confident, calm and consistent.

To help ease your furry friend’s anxiety, we’ve collected some of our best tips to help your pet stay relaxed during a move and adjust seamlessly to their new home.

 

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Before Moving With Your Pet:

Dogs and cats will know something is up before the move. They will see you packing boxes and bags and can sense your mood. If you’re anxious or stressed about the impending move, your pet is likely to feel it too. There are several things you can do before the actual move to help your pet feel at ease:

  • Prioritize quality time. Spend time with your pet before the move so that they are focused on you. If your pet is a dog, reinforce basic obedience commands so they are fresh in their mind.
  • Sprinkle your scent. Spray a distinct scent, such as your perfume, around your home starting three weeks before you move. Spray this same smell in the new house before your pet arrives.
  • Inspect your new space for danger. Check your new house for any poisonous or hazardous items like rat poisoning/traps, holes in the fence or chewable objects.
  • Have a vet on call. If moving cities, research a veterinarian to have on call in the new city—just in case.
  • Update the paperwork. License your pet according to local ordinances, update their identification tags and contact your pet’s microchip or tattoo registry to update your contact information. Don’t have any of those things? Learn more about them here.
  • Keep them legal. If moving cities, check the local law. Find out if you need a new license, what the leash laws are and if there are breed bans in your new city.
  • Crate train beforehand. If your pets will need to be crated during the move, ensure they are crate trained so the new situation doesn’t stress them out.
  • Condition for success. Condition your pet by having a few boxes and suitcases out ahead of time, before the move. That way they don’t associate those objects with you leaving.
  • Practice makes perfect. If your dog will be living with new rules after the move (e.g., moving from a house to an apartment), make sure they are trained on the new protocol beforehand. 

During the Move with Your Pet:

On moving day, it’s important to remember to keep your dog or cat safe, calm and contained. Thousands of pets run away during relocations each year and many never find their way home. You can minimize the chances of this happening to your beloved companion and make their move a lot more enjoyable if you keep these tips in mind.

  • Minimize anxiety with a toy. During busy packing activities keep your pets in their crates with a toy to keep them occupied.
  • Ask for help watching your pet. If you need to, have a friend or family member watch your pet to keep them away from the hustle and bustle of moving.
  • Build a safe space. Your pet may become scared when the moving boxes start to take over. Ensure they don’t run out the door by keeping them in a safe space where they can’t get lost or hurt.
  • Keep them tagged. Make sure your pet has proper identification and tags on during a move, in case they get out.
  • Medicate them if necessary. If your pet gets anxiety during the move, consider a veterinarian prescribed anti-anxiety medication or thunder shirt.
  • Feed them lightly. Feed your pet lightly the day-of the move, especially if they will be in the car for long periods of time.
  • Plan pit stops. If your dog will be spending a lot of time in the car, scout out dog parks or walking trails along the way so that they can stretch their legs (and do their business)!

Adjusting With Your Pet After the Move:

Once you’re all moved in, it’s important to make your dog or cat feel like they are home, too. There are several things you can do around your new place to ease any fears your pet may have about abandonment or unfamiliarity. You should send non-verbal signals that they are safe, loved and a permanent part of your new home.

  • Acquaint your dog with their new space. When you get to the new home, take your dog for a leashed walk inside and outside to let them get acquainted with the new smells while they’re feeling safe.
  • Introduce cats to one room at a time. When you get to your new home, introduce the new space to your cat slowly. Confine them to one room at first, then slowly introduce the rest of the house.
  • Make a house a home. Place your pet’s bowls, bed and leash in the same room in the new house as they were in the old house. This will help make the new spaces more familiar.
  • Stick around the house. Plan to be home with your pet the first few days after the move. At first, leave the house for short periods of time to see how they react. Then, when you need to be away from the house all day, your pet will feel more comfortable.
  • Reassure them with treats. Leave treats and familiar toys with your pet when you depart the house, at least for the first few weeks.
  • Get on their level (literally). Spend time on the floor with your pets. This will not only give them personal attention but will help your scent sink into the floor faster, making them feel more comfortable.
  • Watch for signs of trouble. Observe your pet’s behavior. If they show signs of stress like refusing to eat, coughing or they have diarrhea, you may need to take them to the vet.
  • Be consistent. Keep your daily routine as close as possible to the way it was before the move. Feeding, walks, playtime and cuddle time should all happen at a consistent time.

During the move, remember to be patient with your furry friends. Yes, there may be accidents due to stress or changing schedules. But the more you are able to monitor them and, if necessary, restrict their movements, the less chance this will happen.

Finally, be careful not to correct your pet excessively, as that could just stress them out more. Praise them when they are good and be sure to give them a little extra love and attention. It should take your pet around three weeks to adjust to their new home. As you become more relaxed and comfortable in your new environment, your pet will too!

Tips to help your pet adjust to a move

Here’s What Happened to Me After One Month Inside a Smart Home

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Like most 90s kids, I watched every single Disney Channel Original Movie—and there was no DCOM I loved more than Smart House. I was fascinated by the idea of a house equipped with “Personal Applied Technology” (“PAT” for short) that could listen and respond to every request while providing accurate information on demand. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a home that could make my favorite smoothie, project any movie or music video I could imagine onto any wall, then turn my bedroom into a virtual beach.

As an adult, I still love Smart House, but for more practical reasons, admittedly.

During the process of making my house “smart” in the modern age, I discovered two common misconceptions. First, building a smart home is expensive, and second, so many gadgets require you to have to automate everything

After doing some serious digging, it turns out that neither is true. In fact, it’s possible to start off with just a wifi signal and one or two smart devices. 

Here’s what happened in my first month of installing a bunch of new devices.

It’s True: I Became Really Accustomed to Talking Out Loud to No One, Like in the Commercials

I’ve been slow to adopt the “Hey Siri” function on my iPhone, but I am all about asking my Amazon Echo to launch my favorite playlist or tell me the weather. Alexa and Echo’s personalities are like a personal butler who has more than 1,000 specific skills. I’ve learned to ask mine for everything from calling an Uber to helping me manage my finances. I felt weird at first about giving commands to an empty room, but I quickly learned to love the hands-free, immediate feedback Alexa provides.

The Echo, Apple’s new HomePod, and Google Home all serve as central hubs for your newly connected home. If you’re still uncertain about smart home tech (or if you want to feel like you’re actually living in Smart House) I highly recommend starting off with one of these gadgets.

I Actually Started to Feel Safer (and Got Accustomed to the Convenience Quickly)

One key reason that people enter the smart house game is for improved home security. It’s possible to go big with wireless cameras, motion sensors, doorbells, smoke alarms and more, but I started with a smart lock after seeing the technology at a few Airbnb stays. You’ve probably used keypad entry locks, but did you know that you can now open your lock with your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone simply by approaching the door or with a single fingerprint? Yes, James Bond, it’s true!

I definitely feel safer living alone after installing a smart lock. The technology is notoriously difficult to “pick,” and there’s no risk of my keys falling into the wrong hands or of forgetting to lock the door when I leave. I can also remotely grant entry to my dog-walker. Finally, I’ve gone a whole month without dropping my groceries, gym bag, purse and lunchbox in a pile on my steps as I search for my keys.

I Slowly Stressed Less About Both Cooking and Cleaning

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Adulting is hard work, and I often struggle to find the time to prepare a wholesome meal and deep clean my home. I’ve long known about the magic of slow-cooking, but the Smart Crock-Pot takes it to the next level. I can control the device from my smartphone, which means I can adjust time, temperature, or power if I’m running late for dinner—no more relying on the appliance itself to switch over to warm or turn off.  

Similar to slow cookers, robot vacuums have been on the market for awhile, and now I’m wondering why I didn’t invest sooner. The Roomba is the most recognizable of the bunch, but there’s a wide range of options for cost and functionality—and most can be programmed and scheduled with your smart home hub. Sigh of relief over here as my robot vacuum takes over the burden of this unpleasant chore.

My Dog Got Hooked on the Automation Too

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Smart home tech also extends to pets. My dog likes to be fed on a schedule—he knows exactly when dinner is on its way and makes sure to remind me if I’m a minute behind. Like a smart slow cooker, a wifi-enabled smart dog feeder is a lifesaver if I’m working late or have other evening plans. My feeder allows me to set up mealtimes and portion sizes right from my phone. I’ve found that my dog is less likely to whine at my feet for food and treats because he knows to expect it regularly from his feeder. He’s even lost a little bit of extra weight since we started using this gadget, and I feel like a more responsible dog parent.

Disney was remarkably prescient about the future of home automation when it created Smart House. It may have seemed far-fetched back then, but it turns out you actually can live out that childhood dream of having your house do everything for you! 


Emily Long is a home safety and automation expert for SafeWise. She loves to geek out on new tech gadgets and home improvement projects. When she isn’t writing about smart home tech, she can be found teaching yoga, road tripping or hiking in the mountains.

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

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Learning to be a good mover is not something you can get from a book. Like riding a bike, playing the piano and getting your black belt – like so many things, really – we all have to learn how to move stuff by going out to the job and getting to it.

And as with just about anything, it involves making mistakes.

This month I want to share with you seven lessons I learned during my earliest days on the job. Lessons learned both through the mistakes of others and through my own errors. They made me feel stupid and embarrassed, but nevertheless taught me things I needed to know if I wanted to stay on in this business.

#1. The nicer the furniture, the more likely you’ll damage it.

This isn’t some sort of karmic law. This is pure woodworking and physics.

The finest dressers and desks have drawers that slide out nice and smoothly – meaning you only need to tip that piece so far before gravity grabs hold of those drawers and start pulling them out and onto the floor. Quality furniture also (usually) means good, solid wood. And it’s heavy. Drawers will gain speed fast and hit the floor hard. Armoire doors, once they start to swing open, can come down so hard they put cracks in themselves; if they don’t bang against the floor, they can end up playing “irresistible force meets immovable object” with their hinges.

Yes, I’ve seen all this firsthand. A lot of it happened on a local move during my first week as a mover. I don’t know about the other guys on that crew, but that was the first and last time I let something like that happen.

Protip: Pad-wrapping items like dressers and armoires can obviously keep all those drawers and doors in place. So can a layer of shrink wrap. But if you prefer not to pad-wrap or shrink wrap those big pieces until you get them out the front door another option is using those big movers’ rubber bands, which are easy to put on, easy to adjust (by knotting up and tying off any slack) and totally economical since you can use them for years.

Extra advice: Gravity works on all kinds of furniture, not just the most expensive stuff!

#2. Sitting in the passenger seat does not mean you get to take a break from helping.

Unfortunately, one guy I worked with didn’t seem to understand this. “Watch that side,” I told him as I began backing half-blind into a slot between two other box trucks. “Aw-right,” he said, glancing lazily at the side view mirror before letting his eyes glaze back over.

I suppose it was my fault. I shouldn’t have taken it for granted that he was going to keep watching that side for me and warn me when I was about to sideswipe the truck parked on his side. Which, of course, he didn’t. And he didn’t get socked with a bill for the damage either.

Protip: This “help your driver” rule is always in effect on the road, because so are blind spots. When your driver is pulling up to the curb along a tree-lined residential street, pay attention not only to how close the tires are getting to the curb, but also how close the top of the truck might be coming to any big fat tree branches. Trust me, tree branches can do some serious damage.

#3. Don’t blindly trust a dog or its owner.

“He’s real friendly,” the customer with the mixed-breed said. “But I’ll put him out back so he doesn’t get in your way.” That seemed fair enough to all of us.

He was a quiet pup, actually, and after a while, I’d totally forgotten about him. I figure so did one of the other guys by the time he went out back to take care of the patio chairs. From the living room was where I heard the barking and the shouting, and I was walking through the kitchen when my fellow mover busted through the back door, cussing and bleeding in three places.

Protip: Quiet dogs are still dogs. With teeth.

#4. If you put things out of the way, remember where you put them.

After moving non-stop for six hours, our three-man crew was finally done with the unload. All we had to do was have the customer sign off on the inventory sheets.

“Looks like we’re missing something, fellas,” he said, showing us the lone unchecked box on his bingo sheet.

On the inventory, it just said “screw box” – which was exactly what I wanted to do. But the four of us – the crew plus the customer – spent the next half an hour looking for a screw box, not sure what one was even supposed to look like. Walking through the garage a fourth time, I looked over at the customer’s big old rolling tool chest and the sliding compartment doors at the bottom. Inside, to everyone’s relief, was a small PBO half-filled with nuts and bolts and washers and flanges and… yup. Screws.

Protip: Keep sticky notes and a marker in your pocket for anything that needs special denotation. That way, an out of the way item will be clearly visible and explained. A lot can be forgotten during a five-hour move, trust me.

#5. Pressboards can’t really be pressed.

During my first week as a mover, I was introduced to a pressboard entertainment unit in the customer’s living room. It held a big TV, stereo equipment, a VCR (this was 1996). When we got it cleared off and picked it up, it immediately started to wobble. I could feel the thing getting progressively looser as the lead guy and I eased it as best we could down the apartment building’s stairwell.

Out on the truck, the lead guy pulled out something called a ratchet strap. There I learned that when you introduce a ratchet strap to a piece of pressboard furniture, the ratchet strap will waste no time crushing that piece of pressboard furniture to pieces.

Protip: When confronted with a piece of pressboard furniture, give the customer two choices: a piece of paper called a Pressboard (Particle Board) Waiver that releases the moving company from liability for damage to a piece of furniture that shouldn’t be moved, or a piece of paper that says “FREE”. Read this discussion on MovingScam.com for more on particle/pressboard waivers.

#6. You know that the name is painted on the side of the truck, right?

One day, one of my fellow crew guys and I were asked to go help another van line agency handle a job in Manhattan. My buddy and I sat in the cramped space behind them, our knees pinned against our chests for the 90-minute ride into the city.

Granted, driving in Manhattan can suck. Driving a 26’ box truck around Manhattan is brutal. It takes patience. It takes nerves of steel. Our driver for the day had neither.

At one point there were three lanes being squeezed into two. New Yorkers generally have a grasp of the concept of merging though evidently, they don’t seem to like it. And, well, the driver let everybody on that ride know from out the window.

Protip: Most people on the road can both hear you AND read the name on the side of your truck.

#7. Shrink wrap comes in rolls, but you can’t reroll it.

“Hand me that shrink wrap, Kevin,” my buddy said from the back door of the box truck. Hands full (with what I don’t remember) I gave the shrink wrap at my feet a push with my boot and sent it rolling across the floor of the truck toward my buddy – and the boss, who had just materialized out of nowhere.

“Don’t EVER do that!” he barked in his usual intimidating way.” You know how much a roll of that stuff costs? You get one little rock in that plastic and the entire roll is shot! Where’s your head?!”

I wouldn’t say the whole entire roll would be shot. I wouldn’t say anything – not to that guy’s face. But he was right. Get even a small nick or cut or bit of debris in that plastic and it’ll drive you nuts the way it comes apart next time you try to use it. Money down the drain.

Protip: When someone asks you to hand them the shrink wrap, do just that.

Got any of your own lessons to share?

We know some of you have been around a while – long enough to have some good stories of your own about the hard lessons you’ve learned. We’d love for you to share them, so all of us can learn the easy way what you guys have learned the hard way.

Which brings me to one final tip.

Admit your mistakes. Spell them out to your team when they happen. This way you’ll be helping people avoid doing the same thing down the road.


Illustrations by Marlowe Dobbe

The Stuff That’s Illegal to Bring Into California

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Question: What do pecan shells, ferrets and flamethrowers have in common?

Answer: They are all things you can’t bring into the state of California.

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Pet Relocation 101: How to Move With a Dog

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Tons of dogs and pets are moving across the country every day. Can you imagine it? Hopefully, their owners know that getting them to their new home safely involves a lot more than making sure they don’t pee in the car.

So today, in the spirit of keeping our dogs happy and our cars clean, we bring you our top tips for taking care of your pup before, during and even after your big move.

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